Sleepy as part of the Free Child

Fanita English(1977) states there are three forces or inborn drives in each human being. She refers to them as the three muses.

First there is scary. Scary is about fear and a drive to individual survival and  protection from danger. Second there is spunky. Spunky is about excitement and includes risk taking, creativity and exploration.

One thing about spunky and scary is they represent a pull to life for the individual. In this way they represent the opposite to sleepy or the third muse. Sleepy represents a pull to inertia. It is regressive and represents the pull to nonlife and we all born with varying amounts of these. Despairing kinds of people often have a strong sleepy aspect of themselves.


Those born with strong quantities of scary and spunky are action oriented people. When life gives them a bad deal they will respond with action in some way. For instance when asked how they responded to mother’s depression or father’s anger in childhood most will say something like they felt anger back, got scared, felt very sad and so forth. These are all active solutions in that the child is responding in some definite way.

There is however a smaller group people do not respond in such active ways. Instead they go into a non-response. Into a state of inertia where they are not fighting against something, or thinking of giving up or doing something to get away from mother. They go into a state of nonlife or a state of nothingness. One could say they have a pull to nonlife. They are not seeking to find a solution, they are just in this state. These two drives are at odds with each other. Every young child is born with a drive towards life and a pull towards nonlife.

In this way the three muses could all be seen as functions of the Free Child ego state. They are not adaptions to some kind of authority or parent but are natural states of being, present at birth.

This may seem somewhat odd for sleepy because a pull to non life most often would be seen as a negative psychological process. It is certainly counter to the natural pull to life and growth, instead it is contrary to that.

kid smoke

If it is accepted as Free Child then how one deals with it in therapy is different. As it is not a state of pathology but a natural state of the human psyche then doing ‘therapy’ on it is not going to be effective. It is similar in nature to what Eric Berne called the demon or the witch. Therapy on it is doomed to failure instead one accepts it as part of the Free Child and seeks to develop a workable coexistence with it.

It should be noted that the third muse, sleepy, is a pull to nonlife, it is not a pull towards death. These people are not suicidal in the usual sense of the word. To attempt suicide is an action oriented thing to do which a person in the pull to nonlife would not do. But it is a state of nonlife so one could say they have a sense of passive suicide where they could just sort of fade away over time rather than take some action to kill self.

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